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Irish shoppers lost €12 million to credit and debit card fraudsters in the first half of 2020

Online card fraud rose by 21% compared with the same period in 2019, the BPFI said.

Image: Shutterstock/Suradech Prapairat

IRISH CREDIT AND debit card users were scammed to the tune of €12 million in the first six months of 2020, according to new figures published by the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI).

The BPFI, the Irish banking sector’s main lobby group, recorded more than 143,000 fraudulent debit and credit card transactions in the first half of 2020.

While in-store card was down 51% compared to the same period in 2019 due to the initial pandemic-related restrictions on movement and business, online card fraud rose by 21%.

With retail and other businesses to remain shut until at least May, the BPFI is urging online shoppers to be extra vigilant over the coming weeks, in particular, over the Easter break.

“These latest figures were recorded in the first six months of 2020, a period which saw the beginning of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions which dramatically transformed our shopping behaviour,” said BPFI chief executive Brian Hayes.

“Reflecting these restrictions and lifestyle changes, we saw a 21% rise in ‘card not present’ fraud transactions. This fraud usually takes place online when the fraudster uses the details of a debit or credit card they have stolen but the physical card itself does not need to be present during the transaction.

“In parallel, we saw a fast drop in in-store card fraud as consumers moved away from physical shops and moved online. Point-of-sale fraud transactions were down 52% in H1 2020, compared to a year earlier.”

Fraudsters have tailored their scams to take advantage of the rise of online retail, according to the BPFI.

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Hayes said, “This has led to an increase in impersonation scams with fraudsters mimicking delivery companies, for instance, or trusted organisations such as utility companies or banks via text, email and online websites.”

Some 72% of all fraudulent card transactions involved the theft of card details, Hayes said. This is usually done through fake text message, emails or scam websites through which fraudsters get hold of the customer’s card details before using them to make online payments.

“This is a very worrying trend that we are seeing, and we cannot stress enough the need for customers to be on high alert particularly as we approach the popular Easter shopping period and Bank Holiday weekend ahead,” Hayes added.

The BPFI has also released some tips for shoppers to avoid card fraud:

  • Use secure websites. The website address should be ‘https’ before the purchase is made, indicating a secure connection
  • Use sites where a padlock symbol is shown beside the website address
  • Do not under any circumstances use public Wi-Fi when making payments – switch to 3G/4G on your phone if necessary
  • Independently visit the website of the online sales company as opposed to clicking on social media or pop-up adverts
  • Be cautious about claiming outrageous offers – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  • Stick to well-known websites or websites that you are familiar with or websites associated with high street retail outlets
  • Consumers can a wealth of other advice on how to avoid fraud by visiting FraudSMART.ie

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